Designed by Jean Rédelé, this striking coupé marked the beginnings of a brand that made its name at rallies the world over: Alpine.Craftsmanship and technology
The Renault Alpine A106 was the brainchild of a motoring enthusiast, Jean Rédelé. A young racing driver and Renault dealer, Rédéle bought a 4 CV in 1952 to compete in his 1st rallies. Jean Rédelé notched up a string of victories at the wheel of the standard and 1063 versions, including 1st in class in the 1952 Mille Miglia (1000 Miles) rally wîth Louis Pons as co-driver, and overall runner-up in the 1954 Tour de France!
But Jean Rédelé's dream was to design a small French sports model using production parts. The 4 CV was a good car but it was heavy and not sufficiently aerodynamic. After a few inconclusive attempts, Rédelé teamed up wîth the Chappe brothers, coachbuilders in Saint-Maur outside Paris. The brothers were already experts in plastic technologies. In 1955 their partnership produced the Alpine A106, an attractive car wîth a polyester body built on a 4CV platform. The Alpine owes its name to Jean Rédelé's success in the Alpine Cup.
In 1955, Renault officially joined forces wîth Alpine, the company founded by Rédelé following his win. The aim was to mass produce the Alpine racing car. The craftsmen from Alpine were responsible for assembly and bodywork, while Renault plants produced the chassis, engine and other production parts. In September 1955, the first 3 models in red, white and blue were presented to the press and to the President and CEO, Pierre Dreyfus, on the forecourt of the Renault Billancourt plant.A collectors' dream
The A106 engines were fitted in Alpine's legendary workshop at 13 rue Forest in the 18th district of Paris. The engine existed in 2 versions: 21 and 38 hp. Buyers also had a choice between 2 gearboxes: the original 3-speed gearbox and a new 5-speed version that cost as much as the 4CV car! Despite its price, this 'full option' quickly won the favors of users.
Small-scale production also left space for customization. From 1958, drivers could choose their own powertrains. The A108 model featured a powertrain inherited from the renowned Dauphine. Últimately, just 300 examples of the A108 came off the assembly lines between 1955 and 1961. Today, many collectors would leap at the chance to acquire one of these rare jewels!The birth of a dynasty of champions
The A106 was continually improved during the 6 years of production. In 1956, small round indicators were mounted at the front. In 1957, the Frégate windscreen was replaced by a specially designed part. The bodywork also underwent frequent face lifts over the years.
This automotive jewel did not disappoint its designers. Between 1955 and 1960, it notched up a string of victories. With the Alpine, France enjoyed one of its most successful periods in motorsports. And the story did not stop there, since this founding model was the 1st in a dynasty of racing cars, paving the way for another motoring legend: the Berlinette A110...Source - Alpine
Incredibly rare, the Alpine A106 was the signature design from rally driver Jean Rédélé, the owner and founder of Alpine, Renault's subsidiary brand Alpine. Pronounced 'Alpin', the French manufacturer produced both racing and sports cars that used rear-mounted Renault engines. Rédélé was originally a Dieppe garage owner who received acclaim from his racing success during competitions following the Second World War. In 1978 Renault purchased the company.
The inspiration for the A106 came from the 'Marquis', a Renault 4CV based coupé that though it was never produced, was acquired for production under U.S. license and the 'Allemano', another Renault 4CV based coupé prototype. The first offering from the new company, the A106 was a two-seater sports coupe launched in 1955 as a symbol of what was to come from the Renault-Alpine partnership. Carrying with it the styling that would be demonstrated in future Renault-Alpine models, the snappy little coupe would eventually be replaced by the A108 in 1961.
To launch the A106 the first three Alpine models were painted respectively red, white and blue and delivered to Renault CEO Pierre Dreyfus at the Renault Billaincourt plant yard. Chappe et Gessalin was in charge of assembly in order to meet a crunch order from Paris based Renault dealer Charles Escoffier, incidentally Jean Rédélé's father in law.
Around 650 A106's were produced during its six-year production run. The styling of the A106 was the brainchild of Rédélé and his desire to build an aerodynamic polyester body and adjusting it to the 4CV's chassis. The end result was a sport coupe with a curvy, sleek body with a slim front end and a short, leaning tail end. The A106 was constructed nearly entirely of fiberglass and housed on the original Renault 4CV floor plan and shared many mechanical components. Working with the Chappe brothers, Rédélé would be amongst the first to use auto glass fiber construction.
Powering the A106 was a 747cc rear engine, which eventually added the 845 cc, 904 cc and 998 cc options. Initially the A106 coupe came with an available 21 HP or 38 HP but modifications involving a larger engine increased the horsepower to 59. With a top speed between 75 mph and 115 mph, the rear-wheel drive A106 had the options of the original 3-speed gearbox or a newer 5-speed version. The chassis was tubular-framed backbone and the steering was rack-and-pinion.
Following WWII, France entered into international rally events once again and used the A106 as its entrant. Owner Jean Rédélé drove one of these in 1955 at the Mille Miglia race. The performance enhanced sporting 43 hp A106 won and was given the nickname that it became known as, 'Mille Miles'. The updated specifications of the Mille Miles included four shock absorbers at the rear, and the suspension system that would also be used for the Renault 8 Gordini. Other modifications included a five speed manual gearbox that was manufactured under license, with a hefty pricetag nearly 35% of a Renault 4CV, because of this, the five-speed gearbox option was rarely purchased. Jean Claude Galtier and Maurice Michy received a class victory and a podium place in 1956 for the A106 in the Mille Miglia race.
The A106 made it first debut appearance at the Paris Motor Show in October of 1957. Chappe et Gessalin moved his production facilities in 1957 to a much more spacious site for his fiber glass body cars to Brie-Comte-Robert to make room for increasing production levels. Still powered by the 747 cc Renault engine, the A106 was now available with three different power output versions, 21 hp at 4,100 rpm, 30 hp at 4,800 rpm or 43 hp at 6,300 rpm on the 'A106 Mille Miles'.
Through the 1950s the A106 achieved many successes and was eventually joined by a low and fashionable cabriolet, which was styled by the famed Italian designed Giovanni Michelotti. The Michelotti styled cabriolet was debuted at the October 1957 Paris Motor Show. The A106 continued to be Alpine's principal model until the end of its production span. A larger engined version was introduced later with a maximum 59 hp of power from a 904 cc version of the Dauphine engine and a tubular-framed backbone chassis model was launched in 1959. Alpine developed a 2+2 closed coupe berlinette body from the Michelotti cabriolet design that became the Alpine A108 was produced from 1958 to 1963.
Though it was produced only in limited numbers the A106 was pivotal in establishing the Alpine auto-brand. The successor to the A106, the A108, would only further aid the brand in growing successfully over the years. Sources:
By Jessica Donaldson